Michael Van Valkenburgh

Charles Eliot Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture

Michael R. Van Valkenburgh, Charles Eliot Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture, has taught at the GSD since 1982. He served as program director from 1987-89 and for a term as chairman of the department from 1991-96.

As founding principal of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (MVVA), with offices in New York City and Cambridge, Van Valkenburgh has designed a wide range of project types ranging from intimate gardens to full-scale urban design undertakings. Some of his recent projects include Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City, the Lower Don Lands in Toronto, and the Monk’s Garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Most recently, the firm has been commissioned to design the landscape for the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago and master plan the 308-acre Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh. MVVA has received numerous design awards, including ASLA Firm of the Year in 2016 and the Brendan Gill Prize from the Municipal Art Society of New York in 2010 for Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is presented annually to the work of art that best captures the spirit and energy of New York City.

Van Valkenburgh was the 2003 recipient of the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Environmental Design, and in 2010 became the second landscape architect in history to receive the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for contributions to architecture as an art. In 2011 he was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, where he is one of only three landscape architects on its roster of members. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and the ASLA.

Van Valkenburgh earned a BS in Landscape Architecture from Cornell University and an MLA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2008, Yale University Press published Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates: Reconstructing Urban Landscapes, a book on his firm’s work. Van Valkenburgh’s approach to creating landscapes and public spaces has also been featured in a wide range of publications, most notably Art in America and Harvard Magazine.

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